Here's a recap of the interviews today that Nancy Caggia and Bill Fletcher went through for the Wake County school board District 9 seat.
Caggia brought up her many years working on student achievement issues, including serving on the Governor's School Task Force. Caggia has been involved for many years with programs for academically gifted students, saying she's all about student achievement and effective teachers.
Caggia said she believes they need to reach each child where they are to reach proficiency, citing the need for differentiated instruction.
Caggia talked about the need for budget equity and sharing best practices to improve education.
On the issue of student assignment, Caggia said the board seems to be on the right path with the pillars of achievement, stability and proximity. She said they need to convince parents they're getting the best education wherever they're children are.
Caggia said the next superintendent should be a consensus builder.
As for magnet schools, Caggia said they've been a great idea, helping providing another way to engage students. She suggested sharing best practices of magnets with non-magnet schools.
In her closing, Caggia said she's a non-political person and an independent thinker. She quipped she was called the "google queen" because of how she was known for researching material.
Bill Fletcher came up with props, two figures of children reaching to the stars because he said the board's goal is to help students reach for the stars.
Fletcher said he would seek to bring leadership and consensus to the board, pointing to his 12 years of board experience.
"I believe Wake County continues to be one of the best school districts in the nation," he said. "We have some rough spots. We have some students not necessarily being served as well as they can be."
On the achievement gap, Fletcher said a key factor is getting students reading at grade level by the end of third-grade. He said he believes that discipline problems can be traced back to students not being able to read.
Fletcher also said that he believes teacher turnover and burnout is related to that because of the behavior problems from students who can't read.
"I see it as a fundamental necessity for all of our children being able to read by the end of 3rd-grade," he said.
Budgetwise, Fletcher said that more money need to be spent on professional development for the common core and state standards. He said the $749,000 in the budget proposal this week for extra professional development isn't sufficient.
On assignment, Fletcher said they need more schools to keep up with growth. He also said that it's a state constitutional mandate to avoid high concentrations of poverty in schools and they need to consider student achievement in assignment.
"Historically we have proven that avoiding high concentrations of poverty has been a positive academic impact in our classrooms," Fletcher said. "It’s also been a positive thing for our teachers."
Fletcher said it's more challenging for a teacher in a class that's 30 percent low achieving than 7 percent.
Fletcher said that historically assignment has helped create healthy schools all around Wake County.
Fletcher also said that one of Wake's biggest challenges has been capacity and that multitrack year-round has helped some in the past and will be something that people continue to enjoy.
While Fletcher said the next superintendent needs to be a consensus builder they can't afford to abandon rock solid principles.
Fletcher said that magnet schools have been a significant positive tool. He said he some concerns about recent changes but didn't elaborate.
Fletcher talked about how the suburban schools work harder because of Enloe High School, which he didn't mention by name but was clear who he was talking about.
Fletcher said that magnet schools have both provided a way to avoid racial isolation and served as a “torch or bellwether” for other schools that they can can do it too.
Fletcher said there needs to be a balance of having magnets and offering programs in close proximity to students' homes.
He said it's entirely appropriate to differentiate what’s offered at other schools, ie Junior ROTC and academies. But he said he wouldn't want to dismantle magnets.
As you can probably tell, Fletcher used the full 30 minutes for his interview. Caggia went through her interview faster.